Federal Election 2019: Meet Katter’s Australian Party

Summary

Website: https://www.kap.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KattersAusParty/
Slogans:
The Voice of Regional Australia
Themes: Aaaaaaalll the crazy.  Crocodiles, better rights for regional pubs, north Queensland to be a separate state.  And that’s only the beginning!  Oh, also less gun control, more Christianity, and we need to grow the population, but not through immigration.  Hold onto your hats, my friends, for this is a wild ride indeed.  (And yes, there is a policy on rodeos)
Electorate:
Upper House: QLD
Lower House: Capricornia, Dawson, Herbert, Kennedy, Leichhardt, Maranoa, Wright
Preferences: To be updated if and when the how to vote cards are released.
Previous reviews

Policies & Commentary

Katter’s Australian Party, if the front page is anything to go by, is about guys in hats.  The Who We Are page refines this slightly, in order to reveal that the KAP is *actually* about guys in hats with flags.  I’m glad we got that cleared up.  I have high hopes already.  Their website is actually fairly logically constructed, if perhaps excessively adorned with federation stars.

Their ‘About’ page has 23 core values and principles, which start promisingly:

Every Member of the Party, including Members of Parliament, will, in making decisions, vote in the interests of their electorate, consistent with their conscience and in accordance with the following values and principles.

And what are these principles?  Well,  they feel that Australia’s culture is defined by Christian values, a fair go, and the individual’s freedom to prosper, they believe in collective bargaining, especially for farmers, and they want governments to own essential services.

They  want equality of opportunity, equality before the law, support for those in ‘genuine need while that need exists’, and respect for all talents, skills and occupations, but they are also big into personal responsibility (colouring that ‘genuine’ need in an interesting way), and they are big into freedom of speech and expression ‘which should not be abused by intimidation, malice, violence, or political correctness’.

One of these things is not like the others.

They also believe in the right to bear arms, the ‘freedom to pursue outdoor recreational activities of their choice including hunting, shooting, fishing, boating, camping, 4-wheel driving, horse riding, rock climbing, swimming, bushwalking etc. without unnecessary limitations and restrictions’, and they don’t like state forests.  This whole section is very Shooters and Fishers.  They don’t like government interference in people’s lives, and rather ominously believe that:

Property owners may do what is reasonably required to ensure the security of their family, their property and themselves as well as to ensure its quiet and safe enjoyment.

Are they hinting at Stand Your Ground-style laws?  Actually, I think they might be because they are big on home ownership,  and believe that ‘Homes are to be safe and exclusive havens for all those who reside within them’, which sounded lovely on first reading, but now I am concerned.

They don’t like same sex marriage, and they want Australia to increase its population to achieve ‘acceptable levels of economic, scientific, strategic and personal development’ and say that ‘Government must develop birth rate policies for working families’ consistent with these principles.’

(Remember Costello saying that families should have one for Mum, one for Dad and one for Australia? Oy…)

On the other hand, immigration needs to be limited to what Australia can afford, which seems a little inconsistent until you see that ‘those allowed to migrate, should be those best able to assimilate and integrate with a demonstrated commitment to work for a living and to follow Australian values.’

Ah, right, so we need more people, but not *those* sorts of people.  Got it.

Their ‘What we stand for’ page is pretty similar, though there is more about making sure regional and rural Australia gets its fair share, and we are reminded once again of the importance of Christian values.

Hmm.  Let’s see what the policies are like.  Good lord, there are a *lot* of policies.  This was supposed to be my light relief after reading about MRAs for hours, and Bob Katter is letting me down, I tell you.

Under Agricultural Policies, KAP wants to protect farmers from ‘draconian’ vegetation management laws so that they can grow more fodder crops.  Hmm.

Safeguards will be put in place to ensure clearing only where a farmer has demonstrated a robust development plan, that does not risk broad environmental harm.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, this is rather sweet – they want a ‘Fair Milk Logo’, where milk processors could put a logo on bottles where they had paid farmers a fair price.  I’d buy that milk, and I bet I’m not the only one.  Nice work, Katter – more policies like that, please.

They want to make insurance cheaper for farmers, but weirdly, they want to do this by funding research to gather ‘more data on the risks and impacts of production loss on farm businesses’.  I… don’t see how that policy would achieve their preferred outcome?

Oh my, the first policy on their Regional Australia section is that they want to make North Queensland a separate state, because they feel that those governments down in Brisbane treat North Queensland as a poor cousin.  This is some vintage Katter right here.  I mean, it’s true that North Queensland does seem to be its own very special world, but I feel like this is taking it too far.

Katter is also worried about pubs in rural areas having to pay the same licensing fee as pubs in cities.  I mean, I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I find it hilarious that this gets a whole platform of its very own.

The KAP also feels that regional councils don’t get their fair share of funding.

Metropolitan councils get allocated funding based on a similar proportional allocation methodology to regional councils, despite the need for funds being far greater outside south east Queensland.

I think they actually have a point with this one – a larger regional area is going to have more expensive infrastructure needs than a more concentrated urban one.

On Energy, the KAP wants to bring down electricity prices, through a number of measures that I’m afraid I don’t understand, and it might not even be their fault, so I’ll link to the policy here.  They want to bring down gas prices by requiring ‘all new Queensland gas to be supplied to domestic end users unless it can be shown that exporting the gas will provide a greater contribution to the domestic economy.’  They want to construct a 720 km high voltage electricity transmission line from Woodstock to Cloncurray and Mount Isa, and they want to help farmers who aren’t connected to the electricity grid to get solar powered pumps for irrigation and stock watering, and rooftop solar.

On Environment, Katter is deliciously on brand, with policies in the areas of ethanol mandate, crocodile management and flying foxes.

Crocodiles.  But of course.  I’m sorry, I’m sure the ethanol policy is grand, but I just have to know about the crocodiles.

KAP values human life above crocodiles.

This is a big point of difference between KAP and the major parties, naturally.

KAP’s Safer Waterways Bill addresses the very real issue of Queensland’s exploding crocodile population.

Well, if they are exploding crocodiles, I can certainly see why he is concerned.

These increased crocodile numbers affect public safety and threaten the agricultural, fisheries and tourism industries on which our regional economy depends.

KAP’s Safer Waterways Bill puts greater value on human life than the lives of crocodiles, and seeks to responsibly reduce the risk of crocodile attacks.

That’s nice, but I need to know why the crocodiles are exploding.  Are they flammable?  Have they been eating grenades?  Ooh, wait, is it the ethanol?  Ethanol is pretty flammable, right?  Damn, I knew I should have read the ethanol policy first.  No wonder it was mandatory.

I am disappointed to inform you that the ethanol mandate is simply about increasing the use of ethanol as a biofuel, and not for detonating crocodiles at all.

Oh, and the KAP wants to cull flying foxes, which I do not like at all.  Exploding crocodiles are one thing, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Incidentally, neither the environment or the energy policy say a thing about climate change.  Just noting that.

KAP wants long-term water security for Townsville in the form of a large dam on the Burdekin river.  He is also interested in a dam at the Coalstoun Lakes in North Burnet.

The project would support hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity through increased production of high value crops, such as peanuts and watermelons.

That is a lot of watermelons.

He kind of does seem to want an awful lot of water for North Queensland, and I’m a bit concerned at what happens to everyone downstream?  I’m not saying his policies are bad, because I don’t have the information or knowledge to judge them, but given his North-Queensland-Centric worldview, I am a little suspicious.

(Incidentally, all of these policies are 100% Queensland.  They’ve named their party wrong – it should be the Katter Queenslander Party, because the rest of the country is very much an afterthought here.)

Katter’s economic policies strangely enough seem to centre around North West Queensland, where he would like to create a:

Special Economic Zone scheme to create incentives for new projects in areas with rich mineral, energy and agricultural resources.

(I think this answers my questions on climate change…)

Such a scheme would allow the government to provide special arrangements for transport, water allocations, energy supply and royalties.  And speaking of royalties, North Queensland and Outback Queensland are contributing more than their fair share of income from minerals and energy production and deserve to get more back.  The KAP is particularly unhappy about unemployment in regional Queensland, and wants reinvestment of a greater proportion of royalties into the regions where that money is created.  This does actually seem fair enough.  Oh, and he wants to provide an upfront royalty discount for ‘new large mineral and energy projects that can demonstrate a clear economic benefit to Queensland.’

Oh, Bob.  What are your farmers going to do if you dig up everything for minerals?

The KAP also wants a rural development bank, which really is a good idea.

Oh, wow, the KAP wants to Stop Adani!  But not for the same reasons as most other people, because he definitely wants the mine, he just wants us to own it.  And also the railway line leading to it!  Oh, wait, no, he’s fine with Adani provided they pay us to use the railway line and we get the rest of the Galilee Basin to dig up.  Katter, you disappoint me – just when I was beginning to think I had misjudged you, too!

The KAP wants to seal the Hann Highway, to make it easier to bring freight from Far North Queensland to the south and vice versa.  He also wants to upgrade key roads, mostly for the sake of the cattle industry.  They really are an environmental nightmare, aren’t they…

The KAP also wants a better pricing structure for the Great Northern Railway, which he reckons is now so expensive and complicated that nobody uses it any more.

Ooh, and they want rodeo grounds.

KAP wants to develop multipurpose facilities incorporating cattle yards and rodeo grounds across the Cape and Gulf regions… The facilities would be used to promote the indigenous cattle industry and provide important community infrastructure for rodeos and other social events.

I mean, I suppose we should have expected that from the hat, right?  The indigenous bit is a nice touch, though.

Let’s see what else the KAP has to say about indigenous Australians…

He has three policies here, the first of which is reforming the Blue Card system to make it work better for indigenous communities.  A blue card seems to be the QLD version of a working with children check, but it seems to be a bit stricter than cards in other states, and Katter’s concern is that numerous examples exist in remote communities where people have made significant efforts to reform but can’t get employment due to their blue card status.  The new Blue Cards would apply only to indigenous communities.

The objectives of this Bill are to provide a new Blue Card framework that empowers Indigenous communities to make decisions which best serve their interests in relation to child protection and employment of community members.

The new framework allows Community Justice Groups to issue Blue Cards, rather than the department, who typically have no knowledge of the circumstances or the individuals involved.

Child safety would still be the number one priority under KAP’s Blue Card bill, so people who have committed offences against children would not be eligible.

This sounds like it would be a good thing for the communities, particularly by increasing self-determination and making rehabilitation more possible.

The KAP wants to provide inalienable title deeds for First Australians for land in Community Areas.

The ability for first Australian communities to improve economic opportunities is significantly inhibited by lack of legal title to land in Indigenous Community Areas.

Currently no bank will lend money for commercial development without the security of a title deed.

According to Government records, there has only been one title deed issued in 25 years.

That does sound a problem.  Of course, I strongly suspect that ‘economic opportunities’ means ‘mining’, in which case there is a definite question about what proportion of the community needs to agree about the development, but I’ll give the KAP the benefit of the doubt and assume that they really are trying to improve indigenous autonomy.

The KAP also wants targeted alcohol licencing and carriage allowances in communities at risk from increased use of drugs and homebrew liquor.

The KAP is worryingly big on firearms, and are worried about law-abiding firearm owners being punished.  They want to roll back recent changes to the National Firearms Agreement that reduced the amount of ammunition that could be purchased, and reclassifying lever-action shotguns. He wants farmers to have access to category H firearms (pistols) if they have ‘demonstrated responsible firearm ownership by holding a current weapons licence of category A, B or higher’ (for how long?).  And he wants to create a real-time licencing system to allow people to acquire permits at the point of sale, which he reckons will free up resources to crack down on illegal weapons.

Look, I am pretty anti-gun and am going to automatically frown on anything that smacks of loosening gun restrictions, so you can probably guess my feelings on this one.  Of the three policies, I feel that the third one is the most dangerous; I can see how someone in a very remote area might be disadvantaged by only being able to by ammunition in small quantities, so I might make an exception for them, but the rest get a big old nope from me.

The KAP has a policy on organ donation, which is simply that they think the system should be opt-out, not opt-in, to increase donation rates.  I am nodding in hearty and slightly surprised approval.

The KAP is worried about Uber drivers stealing jobs from Taxi drivers, and want them to abide by the same safety standards and service levels that exist for taxis in Queensland.

And finally, the KAP has a Plan to break the crime cycle:

Crime is a huge problem in regional Queensland. The traditional sentencing and incarceration laws are not working, particularly for young offenders.

Magistrates currently only have two options when dealing with an offender: send them to jail or put them straight back in the community.

KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy would give them another option. Magistrates would be able to send offenders to a remote, approved property. They would work on the land to learn life skills and become better society members.

This would give offenders, particularly young offenders, a chance to break the offending cycle, before they become professional criminals, while still keeping the community safe.

… isn’t that kind of like slavery?  Or at least indentured servitude?

And that, my friends, is where we leave the KAP.  Overall, they are relentlessly destructive of the environment, protective of farmers, *very* protective of Far North Queensland, and deeply concerned about crocodiles.  But they are quite good on First Australians, and I like their Fair Milk Licence idea.  I don’t think I’d vote for them, but there are actually quite a few worse parties on the ballot this year, so there’s that.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

Crocodiles are sadly underrepresented at Eurovision, but Austria did decide to send a song in 1977 that involved people bouncing around pretending to be kangaroos and singing about boomerangs and didgeridoos, which seems to fit the Far North Queensland Katter aesthetic.

Also, the song makes absolutely no sense, which is also apt.

Boom Boom Boomerang, Snadderydang
Kangaroo, Boogaloo, Didgeridoo
Ding dong, sing the song, hear the guitar twang
Kojak, hijack, me and you

 

 

4 thoughts on “Federal Election 2019: Meet Katter’s Australian Party

  1. Oh KAP. Come for the crocodile v humans policies, stay to find out how many people have been torn apart by crocodiles this year, according to Katter. (Is there any other reason to pay attention to him? I’m still quietly pleased that apparently the 1000 blossoms blooming managed to halve the number of crocodile deaths between 2017 and 2018)

    It looks like the usual mixed bag of FNQ policies. I am certain Cloncurry and Mount Isa would love more electricity, and the Milk policy sounds better than my current method, which is frantically checking every 6 months or so that my preferred milk brand is still owned by a localish milk co-op and hasn’t been bought out. And sealing a few more roads up north honestly won’t hurt anyone, considering how much driving they all do to get anywhere.

    I THINK the crime policy is supposed to be a form of community service/rehabilitation? But I agree, relocating young offenders out of their communities to a rural farm is going to remove them from any family networks and is not exactly going to give them a long term support structure, unless you are also providing psychological assistance, education programs and other facilities out at those farms (and I don’t think School of the Air needs the additional difficulties of getting these kids dropped on them). Also I have CONCERNS given a large number of these kids will likely be Indigenous, and therefore would be probably be off country and out of kinship networks.

    • Yes to absolutely all of that. And I agree, the crime one is trying to be community service, but without a hell of a lot more support, it’s really going to be a mess and rather a lot like slave labour. And I hadn’t even thought of the educational issues!

  2. I never thought any sentence with “Katter” in would make me smile, but here I am grinning like a crocodile! Having grown up in the Kimberley (WA), I’m very familiar with the “Those big-smoke-folk don’t understand us we should secede” vibes, although I don’t think Kimberley folk were ever that scared of crocodiles – not unless they were stuck in a dinghy on a sandbank at sunset. A crocodile walked down the main street of Derby once. People talked about it for 30 years! People would occasionally mutter about forming a Kimberley/NT/North Queensland state, with some misgivings about how weird and crazy the QLD mob were.
    I think the work-for-your-rehabilitation bit is trying to reference existing programs – there’s at least one that involves giving young offenders an abandonned dog to bond with and giving them education and on-station training – my hubby played me an ABC podcast about it, the person running it was annoyed that the program didn’t tick the right boxes to get any financial support, so maybe Katter is trying to hint that programs like that would be eligible? It would definitely be good to find some way to keep people connected with their networks, although you also have issues of trying to help them disconnect from those who would lead them back into trouble – it’s a tricky balance that needs individual tailoring, not distant bureaucratic policymaking. I have taught kids who would be awesome 85% of the time, then have all kinds of issues when certain relatives showed up to stay. Family isn’t always a blessing, and they can be very hard to say no to.

    • Thanks for your comment, especially on the work-for-your-rehabilitation. I wasn’t feeling very nuanced yesterday, I’m afraid, but I agree with you absolutely on trying to tailor programs for young offenders to increase their chances of rehab.

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